Yao is still consulting with doctors about the hairline fracture and will announce within a week what kind of treatment he’s chosen.
How long that treatment might sideline him is the biggest question facing the Rockets in the off-season, though they’ve already cashed in on his injury in a sense.
The Rockets applied for a disabled player exception from the NBA a few weeks ago, betting their Chinese center will miss next season as he recovers. The NBA agreed that Yao’s return is unlikely and approved the request, freeing about US$5.7 million that the Rockets used to sign free agent Trevor Ariza from the Los Angeles Lakers.
General manager Daryl Morey said the league’s approval for the injury exception does not rule out Yao’s return this season.
Yao broke his foot in a second-round playoff game against the Lakers on May 8. He was fitted for a boot that immobilized his foot and the team initially said he would miss eight and a half weeks.
The Rockets said less than two months later that tests showed Yao’s foot had not healed and he was out indefinitely. The team doctor said later that the injury could potentially end his career.
The Rockets are also awaiting on the return of Tracy McGrady, who underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee in February and could be out until the middle of next season. Morey said he could’ve applied the disabled player exception to McGrady, but thought the league would be more willing to grant the request in Yao’s case.
“We chose the one we thought had the best likelihood of succeeding,” Morey said.